DAK sounds new COVID19 strain alert in Kashmir

File Photo of Dr Nisar-ul-Hassan

With India reporting 20 cases of new COVID19 strain so far, Doctors Association Kashmir (DAK) Wednesday sounded alert and urged the health authorities in Kashmir to prepare for the potential spread of the variant in Kashmir.

“The new COVID19 strain is knocking at our door and we need to be prepared and alert,” DAK President and influenza expert DrNisar-ul-Hassan said in a statement issued here. “The new variant is on the move and it can sneak in anytime.”

He said there was a need to prepare in advance to deal with the virus.

“Advance planning and preparedness is critical to help mitigate the impact of any eventuality,” Dr Hassan said in the statement. “We need to intensify surveillance activities and gear up hospitals to prevent an outbreak.”

He said that the best way to prevent the virus was to stop it from coming in as once the virus enters the community it is difficult to control it.

Twenty people who returned to India from the UK recently have tested positive for the new mutated strain. The variant – called VUI-202012/01 carries multiple mutations in the spike protein that the virus uses to enter human body cells. The mutant that was first reported in UK has moved to a number of other countries prompting more than 50 countries including India to impose travel ban on the UK.

“The new strain is more infectious than the original virus. It is reported to be 70 percent more contagious than the existing strain,” Dr Hassan said in the statement. “The new variant has wreaked havoc in UK and is responsible for the surge of new COVID19 cases in the country.”

He said that, at the moment, it seemed that the symptoms of the new strain were the same as the earlier one.

“Apart from cough and fever, other symptoms that are reported in persons affected by the new virus include fatigue, muscle pain, headache, loss of appetite, diarrhea and mental confusion,” Dr Hassan said. “The new variant spreads through the same old ways. It spreads between people through respiratory droplets when an infected person coughs, sneezes or speaks.”

This means that wearing a mask, following hand hygiene and maintaining physical distance remain the main ways to avoid getting infection from the new variant, he said in the statement.